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Asda checks in its loyalty card

ASDA HAS scrapped its loyalty card after a four-year trial, though the company denies that the move was prompted by its takeover by Wal-Mart.

Asda has been offering a loyalty card in 19 stores since May 1995 and had built up a database of 360,000 members. However, the supermarket group was never as committed to a card as its rival retailers and has now decided to abandon the trial in order to concentrate solely on offering lower prices.

Wal-Mart operates a similar policy in the United States and does not offer a loyalty card in its main stores. But Asda said the decision had not been taken by the Americans. "It is pure co-incidence. We have been looking at this for a long time," Asda said.

Asda also said latest figures show it has recorded its highest ever market share. Figures for July from Taylor Nelson Sofres show Asda's share of the packaged grocery market was 13.2 per cent, up from 12 per cent last year. Tesco is still the market leader with 21.7 per cent and growing, followed by Sainsbury, which is losing ground with 17.2 per cent. Safeway is fourth with a declining 9.4 per cent share.

Asda, led by chief executive Allan Leighton, claimed the growth had been fuelled by its pounds 100m "Rollback" programme launched in March. The company claims it will have cut the cost of 2,000 items by the end of the year.

Taylor Nelson's market share figures cover packaged groceries, frozen foods, toiletries and healthcare.